Destruction began Wednesday after the High Court upheld a decision to tear down two controversial housing structures known as the Draynoff buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El after nearly two days of violence between settlers and police at the scene.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in wake of the riots and destruction that 300 new housing units would be approved for Beit El along with new construction in Jerusalem.
More violence erupted in wake of the court's decision as tractors arrived in Beit El to tear down the Draynoff buildings and water cannons fired on rioters in the streets. Ten of the rioters were arrested and at least six were lightly wounded.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked pointed out that despite the court's decision, the Draynoff buildings will most likely be reconstructed shortly after being torn down. Land permits from the structures were only acquired after their construction, making them illegal according to the court's ruling. Subsequently acquired land permits mean makes reconstruction likely.
Clashes continued periodically throughout the night on Tuesday, as right-wing activists pelted police with stones and chairs. Police responded with smoke grenades and arrested at least nine people. Rioters tried to break into the Draynoff buildings repeatedly, momentarily breaking through police barricades, but were pushed back by Border Police.
The head of the regional council encouraged the protesters to break into the buildings, claiming that the government intended to tear down the buildings Tuesday night. "If the buildings go down, the government should too," he said.
Violent encounters first began late Monday night when activists barricaded themselves in the Draynoff buildings and resisted police attempts to remove them.
Angry settlers in the crowd called on Bennett to quit the government, a move that would lead to either a new coalition or new elections.
The state later issued its official response to the High Court of Justice, saying that the court should accept the appeal, and provide an injunction that would prevent the razing of the contested structures.
Among the other politicians who arrived to the settlement on Tuesday were Ministers Ze'ev Elkin and Yariv Levin (Likud) and Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi), MKs Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) and Oren Hazan (Likud) and former minister Eli Yishai.
The area has been designated as a closed military zone until August 1, and the Border Police occupied the Draynoff buildings in order to prevent the violent protesters from occupying the structures again.
Return to Sa-Nur
Meanwhile, some 250 people, including dozens of families that were removed from the Sa-Nur settlement in the West Bank during the disengagement in 2005, returned to the village Monday night without approval from Israeli security forces.
The settlers remained in Sa-Nur into Wednesday morning, despite an ultimatum from security forces that the settlement would be evacuated by force if the activists did not leave of their own free will by 2pm on Tuesday.
Government officials joined the group, including Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich and former MK Professor Aryeh Eldad. They entered the fort-like structure that remains standing in Sa-Nur with the announced intention of permanently rebuiding the settlement.
"Ten years after the disengagement, it's about time to fix things. And that begins here, in northern Samaria," said Smotrich in a press release. "Families have begun settling into the rooms of the fort with the intention of staying for some time. We don't intend to move from here."
Many families came to the settlement early Tuesday morning in response to the violent events of Monday night in Beit El, demanding that security forces and the government allow the renewal of settlement in the place.
Children who arrived at the settlement drew on the walls of the structure and wrote "Death to Arabs," "Greater Israel," "Sa-Nur = Redemption," among other things.
The events in Beit El also led to a political storm Tuesday, with leaders on the political right, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming they were doing their utmost to strengthen settlements and prevent the destruction of the Draynoff buildings.
While making similar comments himself, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's decision to send troops into the settlement on Monday night drew criticism from his political partners from Bayit Yehudi and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman who called for Ya'alon's resignation.
From the other side of the settlement debate, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid called for the full support of IDF troops on the ground in Beit El.